Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Technology problems.

I have to admit, I am with no doubt a Luddite, I like a simple life, plug it in and it works. In the past three weeks a mobile phone, bought just four months ago decided to play silly beggars, charge it up and it lost charge within twelve hours even if it hadn't been used. So we took it back to Car Phone warehouse who informed us that it would have to be sent away.  OK, but we need a mobile phone, it is very seldom that our land line is used for incoming or outgoing calls. Being rather stupid we said OK, if we have to get a new phone we will have the same as before. Mistake, the new phone is even worse than the older one, charge it all night and the chances are it will still be flat in the morning, sometimes it charges, sometimes it doesn't. So back to Car phone Warehouse, this time we saw the manageress, who said she would have to check it out for herself, so we left it with her, expecting a phone call from her the next day. No phone call so tried to  phone her on the land line only to find that that was also not working, even worse, neither was the internet, hence no blog posts. So back to Car Phone again to be told the phone is fine, I don't think so, she had had it for two days, in that time there were three missed calls and one text message, the phone was telling us that the battery was low, so back in we went to be told that was because there were a lot of calls while she had the phone. So we are stuck with a phone which is unreliable /useless. However Vodafone were very good and got the problem sorted on the land line and internet connection, only for our computer to die. We can't complain, we have had it for nine years, and being Luddites we don't do all the clean ups that we should, mainly because we are always afraid that we will do it wrong. We now have the new computer, and so far no problems with it, however, while we were waiting for it to be delivered we bought a lap top but lap tops have very small screens so we connected it to our previous monitor which is in fact a 28 inch TV screen, great when you have poor eyesight like me, however, as the remote hasn't worked for years we were unable to alter screen size to access the side bar, yet another trip to a specialist shop to get a new large screen. Of course, as the old computer was dead I have been unable to find a good photo editing program, the one I was using was magic, but I cant remember the name of it, so it will probably be a bit hit and miss putting photos up on the blog. Time will tell.
Meanwhile, Autumn is definitely here, the trees and bushes are all showing their Autumn colours and the hedgerows are full of brightly coloured berries.
Guelder rose berries.
The Guelder Roses have berries that look like rubies,
A favorite of mine, Spindle.
the Spindles have their unusual pink berries with beautiful bronze foliage,
and the wild Arums are now spikes of red berries.
Maple trees look magnificent with their Autumn colour.
Shaggy Ink Caps.
The first of the mushrooms have also appeared, Shaggy ink caps, delicious just gently fried in butter.
Rosa rugosa, second flush.
The garden is still very colourful with a second blooming of Rosa rugosa.
We have tried the first of the Kohl rabi, I doubt we will grow it again, we found it rather bland, runner beans are continuing to produce and we have had a reasonable apple crop, most of these will be dehydrated for winter use. The table birds all did well and are now in the freezer, most have had their thighs and legs removed as they were so big, we did keep one complete bird for Christmas,
it weighed in at ten pounds six ounces, we have had smaller turkeys.
The new bird bath.
Inspired by Allen Titmarch's  'Love your garden' program, Simon has made a beautiful bird bath, using a  Gunnera leaf as a mould and white cement, it has taken up all the veins of the leaves, I am chuffed with it, all it cost was quarter of a bag of cement, (two euros) and some sand which we already had.
A small fishing boat in Kinvara harbour.
We have had a couple of nice days out, one to Kinvara, a delightful small fishing town, and also to Belmullet, a place that we had tried several times to visit. We found it a very dull place and not somewhere that we will go again.
However, we did find an interesting piece of coast line. But it was on the list and now it's done.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Moving towards Autumn.

There definitely seems to be a touch of Autumn around.  A lot of trees are already changing colour, Elderberries are turning black , Hawthorne berries are bright red and rosehips are full of colour. It also seems to be a very good year for blackberries, they appear to be plumper than other years. Vegetable wise it has been a very good year,
the second lot of garden peas are nearly ready for picking, the runners keep coming
 and the Autumn Calabrese is also ready. Leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and Curly kale are all looking good. We also have a great crop of  Kohl Rabi, this is the first time we have grown them , we are not too sure what to do with them, something Google will help me with.
The countryside looks lovely with lots of late summer flowers,
banks of heathers and scabious humming with bees.

We also found Sneezewort growing alongside Lough Conn, in Co. Mayo.
Tomatoes keep coming.
The tomatoes keep coming, another twelve pounds have been picked and de-hydrated, this second lot does seem to have a little more flavour. Next year we will make sure that we only grow the tried and tested Sun Gold.
The garden flowers keep on coming, it's nice to have so many and to give
a bunch of freshly picked flowers to a friend.
Irish grapes,
And a gift from another friend, freshly picked grapes, they were delicious.
When we re- did the rockery we also made a trip to an aquatic garden centre, the pond needed a couple of water lilies and a few marginal plants, one of these plants was a beautiful late flowering water Iris,
I love the deep colour of this one.
 Our early flowering ones are yellow, common flag Iris, and a sky blue one, they both flower early in the season, so it's great to get a late flowering one.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Wet and Warm.

We seem to have caught the tail end of  the latest hurricane, very little wind but quite wet, Met Eireann had given dire warnings, we were all going to suffer flooding, sandbags should be at the ready, etc.etc. it's great to read so negative  forecasts, when it doesn't happen everyone feels good.
We had a lovely trip to the West Mayo coast last week, it was an area that we didn't know, we were headed to Belmullet but never made it. The sat. nav. missed the turning we needed completely and we ended up north of Newport at a place called Malranny.
It is beautiful and very different from the Sligo coast, the bay is surrounded by mountains, the lime stone slab is a lovely purple. It was a great day out even if it wasn't our intended destination.
The tomatoes are now ripening very quickly, the OH. has picked just over ten pounds today,
Sliced, ready for dehydration.
these have been sliced, lightly salted to remove some of the water content and are now draining, next we will  chop some basil, mix it with a little sugar and sprinkle  on the tomatoes slices then place them on the shelves of the dehydrator, once dried the slices will be dipped in wine vinegar ( needed to lessen the chance of botulism), drained and then packed into jars and covered with olive oil. Apparently tomatoes done this way are good for sauces and great in a cheese sandwich. Time will tell.
Despite the weather now turning wet we have at last got lots of butterflies and bumble bees, where they were earlier in the year is anyone's guess.
First of this years birds. 5.8oz oven ready.
We have harvested the first bird of this years table birds, a couple of weeks earlier than normal but we were getting fed up of lamb every  weekend, we have run out of pork and there wont be any available until Oct or Nov. We are also waiting for our normal producer of beef to have a beast ready for slaughter, so Sunday dinners are down to lamb or chicken for a while. This first bird weighed in at five and a half pounds oven ready.
Runner beans are still coming thick and fast and the next lot of garden peas are now flowering. For once we don't have a glut of courgettes, we have only two plants this year and we are keeping pace with them, so far, none have made it to marrow size.
Love the colour of the gladioli.
The flower gardens are full of colour, and we have decided to rearrange things a bit.
The golden rod is over six feet high and is taking over the bed.
Some plants have multiplied and have taken over the bed,
The agapanthus is being swamped.
and some are so tall that other plants don't stand a chance.
Crocosmia Emily Mckenzie.
So  new compost bins have been made and the old compost area will now become yet another flower bed.
This new bed is to house things either too tall or too dominant. The bulb catalogues are now out and my order placed. I will not look at any bulbs on sale in supermarkets, we don't have room. If I keep telling myself that we might make some head way controlling the flower gardens. The lilies have been wonderful this year and they all have a wonderful perfume.
I'm still doing the pottery course, and although I like the shape of this last piece, I'm not too keen on the colours

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ugly Tomatoes.

For the last few years we have always planted Sun Gold tomatoes, in my view one of the prettiest tomato and one of the best flavoured ones, however, somehow things went wrong this year. A friend gave us two trays of tomato seedlings. She had far too many for her and two trays were too much for us, so only one tray was planted, we also failed to ask her what they were. None of our beloved Sun Golds were planted. Well, these unknown tomatoes appear to be beef tomatoes, I could be wrong on this as it's not a type I would plant, it's good to look a gift horse in the mouth.
not only do they take the prize for being the ugliest thing we have grown I also don't like the flavour, not much tomato, rather acid and when fried they go to a creamy consistency. We had plans for lots of sun dried tomatoes this year now that we have the dehydrator, I'm just not too sure how these ugly toms will work out. I guess time will tell. Moral to this tale, sometimes
The other mistake this year is our French Beans which have turned out to be Runner Beans, we ordered seeds form a new company this year, and the beans certainly looked like French Beans, they were duly pre-germinated before planting into the tunnel, I was a little surprised how long they were taking to form beans as French Beans are quite quick, but they are most definitely Runner Beans, so we have two lots of Runners, one in the tunnel and the ones in the garden, we have never enjoyed frozen Runners and our experiment with salting them a few years ago was not that successful, and most of our friends all grow their own, so we will have a lot of wasted beans this year unless we can come up with an idea how to use them. I wonder if they would de-hydrate and still be worth eating.
What a beauty.
After having written in my last post about the lack of butterflies we arrived home the next day to a mist of newly hatched butterflies, the Buddleia was full of them,
and Red Admirals, they have remained around us all this week, with new ones appearing daily, including Speckled Wood, unfortunately they are too fast to 'photograph. It's reassuring to see them.
All the peaches have now been picked, the older tree gave us fifty eight half pounders, we ate what we could and the rest have been bottled ready for winter deserts. The store cupboard is now full, so it's just as well the fruit season is over apart from the apples and they will be de-hydrated.
Looking towards Strandhill, lots of interesting Orchids in those dunes.
We once again had a trip to the Sligo coast, via the Ox mountains, but this time we took a different route across the mountains
and discovered banks of Harebells,
we know we had seen them in these mountains once before but could not remember where,
I never get bored seeing the coast, there's always so much movement and interesting things to see,
this time I spotted a Cormorant drying it's wings, it was only after I had taken the photo that I realised that there was also a Heron doing the same thing, unfortunately it's not a clear picture of the Heron.
More waves.
We also found a beautiful waterfall, but not on the coast , this one is in Killukin, in Co. Leitrim. I guess I am  attracted to any water source being an Aquarian. I always find it so calming, even if they are big waves.
The Chinese lantern plant which was gift from a friend has done wonderfully this year, it is now well established.
All the new plants around the pond have taken,
Zara our Persian cat loves to walk around the plants smelling the Thymes and Dianthus, she's not interested in the other plants.
 Now all that remains to be done to the rockery is planting spring bulbs, I can't believe that we are already coming up to bulb planting time again, where has this year gone?